For six to eight weeks, Sidney Crosby
will find himself in an unfamiliar place – off the ice.
The Pittsburgh Penguins superstar center was re-evaluated by Pittsburgh Penguins team doctor Chip Burke on Tuesday morning and further testing confirmed a right high ankle sprain – the most-serious injury of Crosby’s hockey career, in terms of recovery time.
“It’s not something I have really had to deal with before. It’s new. I don’t know if it’s really set in yet,” a solemn Crosby said. “It’s been tough watching the last couple games, but I think it’s going to be pretty tough as we go along here.
“I was hoping 3-4 weeks would be the most. It doesn’t look like it’ll be like that. We’ll see how fast I heal,” he continued. “This is probably something that’s tougher mentally than anything I have probably had to deal with. I don’t think you want to get caught looking at a date and then you get to that date and you’re not ready to go. That can definitely hurt the way you feel about things. For me, I am just going to take it a day at a time, that’s the best way to do it and make sure I am doing everything possible to get back and hope that my body heals as fast as possible.”
Crosby suffered the injury in the first period of the Jan. 18 against Tampa Bay halfway through the first period. He charged through the Lightning zone and was pulled down by Tampa Bay defenseman Paul Ranger near the right circle. Crosby, who drew a penalty on the play, slid and crashed awkwardly against the end boards. His right leg absorbed most of the impact, which resulted in the injury.
“I did the same thing I always do. I went in and took a backhand. The rebound kind of popped out near me. I was sliding on my butt and my feet are forward and usually I hit with my feet and my legs come up,” he said. “My left foot hit and went up, but my right foot stuck in the boards. Usually my heels will bring me up and my legs will be above my head kind of. My right foot stuck. There’s nothing you can do. It’s just bad luck.”
The injury will force Crosby to miss Sunday’s NHL All-Star Game in Atlanta. For the second-straight year, he was the leading vote-getter for the event.
“I was looking forward to it, especially getting a chance to play with [Vincent] Lecavalier and [Daniel] Alfredsson, too,” Crosby said. “I think I am able to look past that a little more, finding out it’s going to be as long as it is. My focus has shifted to what I need to do.”
The main thing Crosby can do now is rest.
“I am probably going to go in a boot for the next two weeks. Probably after that, just typical rehab stuff,” he said. “The big thing with this is time. You can’t really do too much at this point to really strengthen it, especially with it being injured. As time goes on, I think I will be able to start strengthening it a bit more. Right now, it’s just pretty much sit and wait.
“I guess upper body and core and things like that I can work on. Off the ice, I will probably just try to handle the puck at some point and just make sure I feel the puck a bit. If you go a month and a half or two months without feeling the puck, sometimes it takes a while. I am doing everything I can to make sure I cover all grounds and make sure that when I come back it’s hopefully as short as possible to adjust.”
Crosby was happy to see how his teammates rallied for a 2-0 win in Montreal the day after his injury, in addition to Monday night’s battle with Washington, which the Capitals won in an overtime shootout.
“The guys are really working hard. I don’t think you really admire that as much when you’re playing because you’re so caught up in the game,” he said. “To see the character we have and the way we play together, I think that’s something I have more respect for, having watched the last couple games. Whether it’s [Evgeni Malkin] or [Dany Sabourin] stepping up, it’s going to be important. Each game, it’s going to have to be a different guy or the same guy. We’re definitely going to have to have some guys probably accept different roles a bit and play a bit more and be ready to make those adjustments.”